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the relater. How many may a man of diffusive conversation count among his acquaintances, whose lives have been signalized by numberlefs escapes; who never cross the river but in a storm, or take a journey into the country without more adventures than befél the knight-errants of ancient times in pathless forests or enchanted castles ! How many must he know, to whom portents and prodigies are of daily occurrence; and for whom nature is hourly working wonders invisible to every other eye, only to supply them with subjects of conversation !
Others there are that amuse themselves with the difsemination of falsehood, at greater hazard of detection and disgrace ; men marked out by fome lucky planet for universal confidence and friendlip, who have been consulted in every difficulty, entrusted with every secrety and summoned to every transaction : it is the supreme felicity of these men, to ftun all companies with noisy information; to fill doubt, and over bear opposition, with certain knowledge or authentic intelligence. A liar of this kind, with a strong memory or brisk imagination, is often the oracle of an obscure club, and, till time discovers his impoftures, dictates to his hearers with uncontrouled authority; for if a public question be started, he was present at the debate; if a new fashion be mentioned, he was at court the first day of its appearance ; if a new performance of literature draws the attention of the public, he has patronised the author, and seen his work in manuscript; if a criminal of eminence be condemned to die, he often predicted his fate, and endeavoured his reformation : and who that lives at a distance from the scene of action, will dare to contradict a man, who reports from his own eyes and ears, and to whom all persons and affairs are thus intimately known ?
This kind of falsehood is generally successful for a time, because it is practised at first with timidity and caution; but the prosperity of the liar is of short duration ; the reception of one story, is always an incitement to the forgery of another less probable; and he goes on to triumph over tacit credulity, till pride or
reason rises up against him, and his companions will no longer endure to see him wiser than themselves.
It is apparent, that the inventors of all these fictions intend some exaltation of themselves, and are led off by the pursuit of honour from their attendance upon truth : their narratives always imply fome consequence in favour of their courage, their fagacity, or their activity, their familiarity with the learned, or their reception among the great; they are always bribed by the present pleasure of seeing themselves superior to those that surround them, and receiving the homage of filent attention and envious admiration.
But vanity is sometimes excited to fi&tion by less visible gratifications: the present age abounds with a face of liars who are content with the 'consciousness of falsehood, and whose pride is to deceive others without any gain or glory to themselves. Of this tribe it is the supreme pleafure to remark a lady in the playhouse or the park, and to publish, under the character of a man suddenly enamoured, an advertisement in the news of the next day, containing a minute description of her person and her dress. From this artifice, however, no other effect can be expected, than perturbations which the writer can never see, and conjectures of which he can never be informed : some mischief, however, he hopes he has done ; and to have done mischief, is of some im. portance. He sets his invention to work again, and produces a narrative of a robbery, or a murder, with all the circumstances of time and place accurately adjusted, This is a jest of greater effect and longer duration : if he fixes his scene at a proper distance, he may for several days keep a wife in terror for her husband, or a mother for her fon; and please himself with reflecting, that by his abilities and address some addition is made to the miseries of life.
There is, I think, an antient law in Scotland, by which LEASING-MAKING was capitally punished. I am, indeed, far from defiring to increase in this kingdom the number of executions; yet I cannot but think, that they who destroy the confidence of society, weaken the credit of intelligence, and interrupt the security of
life; harrafs the delicate with fhame, and perplex the timorous with alarms; -might very properly be awakened to a sense of their crimes, by denunciations of a wlipping poft or pillory : fince many are so insensible of right and wrong, that they have no standard of aâion but the law; nor feel guilt, but as they dread punila.
How far the precept to love our Enemies is practicable.
[Advent. No. 48.) 'O LOVE AN ENEMY, is the diftinguishing charac
teristic of a religion, which is not of man bu of GOD. It could be delivered as a precept only by Him, who lived and died to establish it by his example,
At the close of that season, in which human frailty bas commemorated sufferings which it could not sustain, a season in which the most zealous devotion can only substitute a change of food for a total abftiner.ce of forty days; it cannot, surely, be incongruous to con, lider, what approaches we can make to that divine love which these sufferings expreffed, and how far man, in imitation of his SAVIOUR, can bless those who curse him, and retuin good for evil.
We cannot, indeed, behold the example but at a diftance ; nor consider it without being struck with a sense of our own debility : every man who compares his life with this divine rule, inftead of exulting in his own ex. cellence, will smite his breast like the publican, and cry out, “ GOD be merciful to me a finner!" Thus to acquaint us with ourselves, may, perhaps, be one use of the precept ; but the precepi cannot, surely, be considered as having no other.
I know it will be said, that our passions are not in our power; and that, therefore, a precept, to love or to hate, is impossible ; for if the gratification of all our withes was offered us to love a stranger as we love a child, we could not fulfil the condition, however we might desire the reward,
But admitting this to be true, and that we cannot love an enemy as we love a friend, it is yet equally certain, that we may perform those actions which are produced by love from a higher principle: we may, perhaps, derive moral excellence from natural defects, and exert our reason instead of indulging a passion. If our enemy hungers we may feed him, and if he thirsts we may give him drink : this, if we could love him, would be our conduct; and this may still be our conduct, though to love him is imposible. The CHRISTIAN will be prompted to relieve the necessities of his enemy, by his love to GOD: he will rejoice in an opportunity to express the zeal of his gratitude and the alacrity of his obedience, at the same time that he appropriates the promises and anticipates his reward.
But though he who is beneficent upon these principles, may in the scripture sense be said to love his enemy; yet something more may still be effected: the passion itself in some degree is in our power ; we may rise to a yet nearer emulation of divine forgiveness, we may think as well as act with kindness, and be sanctified as well in heart as in life.
Though love and hatred are necessarily produced in the human breast, when the proper objects of these passions occur, as the colour of material substances is necessarily perceived by an eye before which they are exhibited; yet it is in our power to change the paflion, and to cause either love or hatred to be excited, by placing the same object in different circumstances; as a changeable filk of blue and yellow may be held so as to excite the idea either of yellow or blue.
No act is deemed more injurious, or resented with greater acrimony, than the marriage of a child, especially of a daughter, without the consent of a parent: it is frequently considered as a breach of the strongest and tendereft obligations ; as folly and ingratitude, treachery and rebellion. By the imputation of these vices, a child becomes the object of indignation and resentment: indignation and resentment in the breast, therefore, of the parent are neceffarily excited; and there can be no doubt, but that these are species of hatred. But if the child is considered as still retaining the endearing softness of a filial affection, as still longing for reconciliation, and profaning the rites of mar. riage with tears; as having been driven from the path of duty, only by the violence of passions which none have always refifted, and which many have indulged with much greater turpitude; the same object that before excited indignation and resentment, will now be regarded with pity, and pity is a species of love.
Those, indeed, who resent this breach of filial duty with implacability, though perhaps it is the only one of which the offender has been guilty, demonstrate that they are without natural afection; and that they would have prostituted their offspring, if not to luft, yet to affections which are equally vile and fordid, the thirst of gold, or the cravings of ambition: for he can never be thought to be fincerely interested in the felicity of his child, who when fome of the means of happiness are lost by indiscretion, suffers his resentment to take away the reft.
Among friends, fallies of quick resentment are extremely frequent. Friendship is a constant reciprocation of benefits, to which the sacrifice of private intereft isfometimes necessary: it is common for each to set too much value upon those which he bestows, and too little upon those which he receives; this mutual mistake in so important an estimation, produces mutual charges of unkindness and ingratitude ; each, perhaps, professes himself ready to forgive, but neither will condescend to be forgiven. Pride, therefore, ftill increases the enmity which it began ; the friend is considered as / felfish, assuming, injurious and revengeful; he consequently becomes an object of hatred ; and while he is thus considered, to love him is impossible. But thus to consider him, is at once a folly and a fault: each ought to reflect, that he is, at least in the opinion of the other, incurring the crimes that he im putes ; that the foundation of their enmity is no more than a mistake; and that this mistake is the effect of weakness or vanity, which is common to all mankind; the character of both would then assume a very different aspect, love would